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I'm feeling at ease with the greats: Danny Willett

 

Confident: Danny Willett at Augusta National yesterday
Confident: Danny Willett at Augusta National yesterday

By Phil Casey

Former Masters champion Danny Willett feels he "fits in more" with the greats of the game at Augusta National as he attempts to win a second green jacket.

Willett was ranked ninth in the world after winning his maiden major title in April 2016, but had slumped outside the world's top 450 in May last year after struggling with injuries and a subsequent loss of form.

The 31-year-old's decline had already started by the time he became the first defending champion to miss the cut in the Masters since 2004, his second round of 78 in 2017 starting with a demoralising quadruple-bogey eight on the first.

Last year he also made an early exit after rounds of 75 and 76, but made the trip to Georgia in far better spirits this time after November's victory in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

"Everything's better," Willett said. "The mind's a lot calmer and quieter because we've been able to do the work because the body's been better.

"I'm coming here a hell of a lot happier than I have done in the last two years.

"That enables you to enjoy nights like the Champions Dinner, enjoy sitting round with the guys. You're sat there the last couple of years when I've played pretty poor and you look around and you're across the table from Mr Watson, Mr Nicklaus and Mr Player, Tiger (Woods) and Phil (Mickelson).

"And I'm sat there thinking 'I'm playing rubbish, I'm f****** 300 in the world'.

"It's nice to come here after winning in November and with the game and the frame of mind better.

"You feel like you fit in a bit more," he added.

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